I went to the Cambridgeport Saloon when I got really lonely. It was only a few blocks from my quiet, leafy corner of the city, but it was a different planet. Lunatics and malcontents sat at stools and in seedy neon corners. It was a dive bar. Not a pretend dive bar, but a real dive bar.

The drinks were cheap and the lights were bright and it smelled always of vomit and old smoke. I never once left the place sober. It wasn’t the kind of bar where you sat to read a novel, or the paper. You didn’t stare off into space and mind your own business. You took sides, and jumped into conversations. I talked to a man who was fresh out of prison for shooting another man with a flare gun, and once heard a shaggy down-and-outer sing a version of Let’s Stay Together so beautiful that it brought an unusual silence with it.

Things went on in the restrooms that you wouldn’t believe. The pool table was crooked and covered in cigarette burns. I remember a woman. She had enormous fake breasts and painted-blonde hair. Jagged horrible scars puffed out on both of her wrists. She told me about the horrors of her life as a part-time stripper and full-time hooker, and I listened. I walked home alone and wobbly-drunk, through the shadows of early morning and back to earth. I am certain that woman is not alive today.

One day, years and years ago, the doors were pad-locked. It’s a hot section of the city, ripe for business. Fancy restaurants and cocktail bars open up right and left. The old candy factory is modern glass and steel now. It’s home to an upscale bakery and wine shop, and infinite rows of expensive condos. For some reason, though, the old yellow-green sign of the Cambridgeport Saloon still stares out dumbly at Massachusetts Avenue like a bad neighbor. No one seems to know who owns it or why they don’t snip the pad-locks and make room for some clever thing or other. No one can tell me why the rats and roaches, and all the ghosts that madhouses harbor, are still in charge.

[Photos: Cambridgeport Saloon by Elliot Foxprince]

Thursday

Rumours are whispered
Into my wide open ears
As I stand at the edge
Of the dancefloor
The lights illuminating you
And only you
I want someone to hold me
And tonight my heart
Has decided on you
But there’s always something
Holding me back
From what I want
And tonight there are so many obstacles
Lies, truths, words unsaid
Later you will clear the smoke
From the bong’s chamber
As my head clouds even further
I look into your coal black eyes
And I wonder
Is something beginning?
Or will I just be let down
Once again

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